How to Become a 31-Year-Old with A College Degree and No Idea What You’re Doing

I value passion and purpose so much, so why don’t I have it?

Shooting concert footage for a DVD, 2018 | Photo by John Mathis

Go to College Because…Obviously

When I graduated college in 2017, I became the first one to do so in my family, something I took great pride in. It took me a long time to get there — taking semesters off, taking online classes, using a part-time schedule — but I finally did it, and that’s all that matters, right?

Just…Be a Writer

The only thing I felt like I was good at growing up was writing. That sentence’s weird structure might beg to differ, but plenty of non-family members told me they enjoyed my style of writing. I enjoyed it, too, so I thought I’d be a writer. It seemed like the only realistic option. I had no other real interests or passions that could be turned into careers. And if I ever did, I shot them down quickly and with little thought.

Start a blog! Everyone’s Doing It!

They make blogging sound so easy, don’t they? Everyone can do it! It’s so simple! You can get sooo many views, AND EVEN MAKE MONEY. Besides, I already enjoyed writing, so it seemed like a breeze many years ago when I established my first (now-defunct) website, Jessica Mathis Inc.

Change Your Major to Video and Film Production…Because You Like Making Narratives Using Your Webcam

I changed my major in college in 2014 to video and film production based on my love of making little narrative-driven videos using my webcam. I told myself I could just be a writer without a degree (little did I know, I could make films without a degree, too, but here we are), so that seemed like a totally legitimate reason to switch my major.

Wish You Would Have Just Finished Your English Degree

I’m actually so grateful for the friends I met in the film industry, the experiences I have, and the knowledge I would have never otherwise pursued. Storytelling is still ingrained in me, and I don’t want to abandon the visual side of it. So it’s definitely not wasted.

Come Up with A Hundred Different Exciting Ideas. Shoot Down Every One.

Yoga teacher. Medical coder. Program coder. Social worker. Medical assistant. Game designer. Technical writer. Psychologist. Wildlife handler at a zoo. I’ve had these bright ideas, and many more, that seem really cool and exciting, but then, I decide not to pursue them, for one reason or another. The path to get there is too expensive, the job burnout is real, I realize after a few days I don’t actually think the career fits me (despite no real-world experience).

Fail to Manage Expectations and Not Put in the Work for Long Enough

This is it. The real reason I have no dream job and I feel aimless. It’s not that I lack purpose or passion. I bleed passion! I am bursting with a sense of purpose!



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Jessica Mathis

Writer at The Unplug Initiative. Mental health advocate. Doing my best in the pursuit of self-improvement.